Why Modern Workplaces Don't Work

Over on The Big Think, 37Signals co-founder Jason Fried has posted an interesting short video about how the modern workplace is designed to provide constant interruptions (phone calls, meetings, colleagues dropping by your desk), and how that’s a real productivity killer:

Fried says that project management tools, IM, collaboration apps and email can be used to reduce those constant interruptions, because if you’re busy you can put them to one side until you have time to deal with them.

As web workers, we’re fortunate in that we typically don’t work in regular office. But we’re still subject to interruptions, and as such can also use tools and careful scheduling to reduce their frequency and boost productivity. Rather than an update meeting, for example, try using an app to keep your colleagues in the loop. Interruptions jolt you out of “the zone,” so if meetings or conference calls are absolutely required, scheduling them back-to-back will reduce the number of interruptions to your working day. WWD’s “Productivity Superstar” columnist Karen posted some great tips for reducing distractions in “7 Ways to Find Your Focus,” and for those working from home, complete with distractions like having to answer the doorbell and dealing with family members, Georgina provided “5 Focus Killers…and How to Beat Them.”

It’s also worth considering how your actions impact the people you work with — do you really need to phone them, or call a meeting? Do you need an answer immediately? As Karen says, productivity isn’t just something we give ourselves. It’s a gift we give other people as well.

What techniques do you use to minimize interruptions?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.):

Report: The Real-Time Enterprise

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